Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How do I Get Paid for Electricity?
A.Netmetering credits your account the difference between what the system returns to the grid vs what you use from the grid. Energy is charged and credited at the same retail rate for both. If you return more that you use you are credited with Net Excess Generation (NEG). NEG credits do not have an expiration date.
Consumers Energy and TCLP have true net metering programs.
Cherryland has a "buy-all/sell-all" program that pays 10 cents per kWh for production.
Q. How long do Solar PV Systems Last?
A. The panels last at least 25 years, probably over 35 years. The inverters last from 10-20 years. Then they can be refurbished or replaced. Replacement cost is $0.20 to $0.25 per watt for inverters.
Solar panel output deteriorates about 1/2 percent per year in northern climates.
Racking components are aluminum, stainless steel, and galvanized steel.
Q. What about snow in the winter?
A. It depends on the panel tilt and local conditions. Areas exposed to wind with tilt angles 45 degrees or greater will shed most snow. Other systems will require an occasional brush-off for maximum output.
Only about 15% of annual solar production is during the snow periods and snow will only cover panels for about 1/2 of those days.
A tracking array "dumps" snow every morning before beginning its tracking routine.
Q. How big is a solar array?
A. For every 1000 DC watts, there are about 60 square feet of panels. So a 10 kw array will be about 600 square ft (20 x 30 ft)
Q. How much of a solar installation is "local content"?
A. It’s possible to have nearly all of the installed cost local – or almost “local”. Michigan manufacturers are Suniva (Saginaw) and CBS Solar (Copemich). Nearby, Milwaukee and Minneapolis have solar plants. SolarWorld produces solar panels in Atlanta and California. These plus local labor can bring “local” content to over 80%. The cost increase for local is about 5%.
Most panels are manufactured in Canada, Mexico, Europe or the Far East. Most solar material is manufactured in the US (Saginaw, Midland) and shipped around the world for assembly into solar panels. So it’s difficult to identify a single site for the manufacturer.
Q. Will a solar array produce electricity during a power outage?
A. No, a grid tied system disconnects from the grid during an outage to protect utility workers. The SMA TL inverter will allow the homeowner to manually switch to solar power during daytime hours and power the home during an outage. SolarEdge has their Stor-Edge system that has a 1-2 day battery backup for their 7.6 kW inverter.
Q. What if I want to go "off the grid" ?
A. You'll need to be able to store enough energy in batteries to handle periods of no sun. Storage batteries for five days of energy (125 kwh) would cost $25,000 to $30,000. A small generator is a more cost effective solution for temporary power.
Q. What About Shading and Shadows?
A. We evaluate each site using the Solar Pathfinder system. This allows us to determine any losses in production due to shadows.